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POLITICAL CULTURE IN THE GREEK CITY

AFTER THE CLASSICAL AGE

edited by

Onno M. van Nijf & Richard Alston


with the assistance of C.G. Williamson

PEETERS
LEUVEN PARIS WALPOLE, MA
2011

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CONTENTS
List of Illustrations ....................................................................................

vii

Preface .......................................................................................................

ix

Contributors ..............................................................................................

xi

Political culture in the Greek city after the classical age: introduction and preview ..........................................................................
Onno M. van Nijf and Richard Alston

Chapter 1. Ils taient dans la ville, mais tout fait en dehors de


la cit. Status and identity in private religious associations in
Hellenistic Athens .............................................................................
Ilias Arnaoutoglou
Chapter 2. Where the Non-Delians met in Delos. The meeting-places
of foreign associations and ethnic communities in Late Hellenistic
Delos .................................................................................................
Monika Trmper

27

49

Chapter 3. Ethnic minorities in Hellenistic Egypt ........................... 101


Dorothy J. Thompson
Chapter 4. Money for the polis. Public administration of private
donations in Hellenistic Greece ........................................................ 119
Kaja Harter-Uibopuu
Chapter 5. Kings and cities in the Hellenistic Age .......................... 141
Rolf Strootman
Chapter 6. Pride and participation. Political practice, euergetism,
and oligarchisation in the Hellenistic polis ....................................... 155
Edward Ch. L. van der Vliet
Chapter 7. Oligarchs and benefactors. Elite demography and
euergetism in the Greek east of the Roman Empire ......................... 185
Arjan Zuiderhoek
Chapter 8. Reconstructing the political life and culture of the
Greek cities of the Roman Empire .................................................... 197
Giovanni Salmeri

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contents

Chapter 9. Public space and the political culture of Roman Termessos ............................................................................................... 215
Onno M. van Nijf
Chapter 10. The councillors dilemma. Political culture in thirdcentury Roman Egypt ....................................................................... 243
Laurens E. Tacoma
Chapter 11. Households as communities? Oikoi and poleis in Late
Antique and Byzantine Egypt ........................................................... 263
Roberta Mazza
Chapter 12. The oikoi and civic government in Egypt in the fifth
and sixth centuries............................................................................. 287
James Tuck
Epilogue: Post-politics and the ancient Greek City.......................... 307
Richard Alston
Index Locorum .................................................................................. 337
Index.................................................................................................. 344

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KINGS AND CITIES IN THE HELLENISTIC AGE


Rolf Strootman

Volume seven of the first Cambridge ancient history, dedicated to the


centuries after Alexander (1928), has on its cover an image of the Roman
she-wolf. Thus there can be no doubt that this was the period of the rise
of Rome and the decline of Greek civilisation. The predominant view of
the age by historians of the early twentieth century is outlined in an introductory essay by W.S. Ferguson.1 Section IV on The large state and the
polis is a lengthy complaint about the demise of the polis ideal, which
was seemingly on the wane even before Chaironeia due to the rise of
political and economical elites and royalist oligarchies. The single most
important cause of decline, however, was the loss of political autonomy
after Chaironeia: The fatal weakness of the Greek city-states as the
custodians of civilisation was their incapacity to form an all-embracing
coalition (p. 22); as a result, they were completely shorn of their statehood, [lacking] municipal rights and a voice in the affairs of the realm of
which they formed part (24-25).
Since then, thinking about the post-classical city has changed drastically. In the second edition of volume seven of the Cambridge ancient
history (1983), J.K. Davies titled his section (VII) on the Hellenistic city:
The polis transformed and then revitalized.2 And in the Blackwell companion to the Hellenistic world (2003) Patrick Baker boldly wrote that:
Any disruption caused by the conquest of Greece by Philip, and later by
Alexanders campaign, had relatively little effect on the Greek city-states
beyond the multiplication of their numbers. Thus, the traditional model of
democratic government which gave the people control over political life,
over justice and over community administration persisted in a new, though
not necessarily inferior, form. This phenomenon was most striking in the
Greek city-states of Western Asia Minor which had endured centuries of
Persian domination. After being declared free by Alexander the Great,
many of them entered a significant phase of political, economic and cultural
development. Thus, contrary to a once widespread opinion, the Hellenistic period was not one of decline for Greek city-states; rather it represented
the height of their development.3
1 Ferguson 1928.
2 Davies 304-314.
3 Baker 2003, 376-377.

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At first sight, this is the exact opposite of the view expressed in the
1928 CAH. Still the modern assumption that the polis, like Sicily in
Lampedusas Il Gattopardo, changed in order to remain the same, also
treats the Hellenistic city ultimately in the light of the previous period.
Because the Hellenistic period has been set against the Classical age of
Greece since the nineteenth century, questions of continuity and change
continue to dominate the debate about Hellenistic culture. Accordingly,
the emergence of the Macedonian empires, together with the supposed
subsequent loss of autonomy for the city-state, is still considered the
principal defining aspect of the transition from the Classical to the
Hellenistic age, even by those who do not think about Hellenistic history
in terms of cultural and moral decline.4 The view that Hellenistic cities
lacked political freedom and had no voice in the affairs of the monarchies of which they formed part, remains unchallenged the number of
poleis may have increased after Alexander, and they may have flourished
economically, but they were not longer city-states. Ensuing questions,
like how did cities adapt to empire? or, to what extent did they flourish
despite changed political power constellations? keep the discussion confined to a teleological cadre.
The crucial question, however, is hardly ever asked: were Hellenistic
cities really (or, to what extent) subservient to kings? I will approach this
question from two angles. First, the place and function of cities in imperial states will be outlined. Second, the dynamics of interaction between
city and the royal court will be discussed. In both cases the focus is on
the Seleucid Empire in the third century, although examples from other
Macedonian kingdoms will occasionally be brought in.5

4 For instance in recent textbooks such as Shipley 2000 and Chamoux 1981, an English
translation of which appeared with Blackwell in 2003; cf. the introduction to Ogden 2002,
ix-xxv. The attractive image of the period as one of decadent decline, fashionable especially
in the last decade of the past millennium, has it adherents too, see e.g. Green 1990. The
view that Macedonian domination meant repression is central to the argument in Lape
2004, interpreting Menanders plays as acts of dissent full of coded democratic messages;
for an opposite view see Major 1997, to whose review for BMCR 2004.06.39 I owe this
reference.
5 In what follows, only Greek or Hellenized cities will be discussed because of the
ample availability of sources and secondary literature, as notably the cities of Hellenistic
Asia Minor have been extensively studied in the (recent) past. However, to really understand the relation between city and empire in the Seleucid kingdom, not only the poleis
at the empires westernmost periphery should be taken into account, but also cities located
in its centre or even its eastern end; potentially interesting case-studies c.q. candidates for
comparison with the poleis of western Asia Minor would be Arpad, Jerusalem, Babylon,
Susa, and Merv.

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City and Empire


We must bear in mind that monarchical empire was only a new
phenomenon for the cities in mainland Greece. When the Macedonians
under Philip, Alexander, and their successors became the dominant political power in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, Greek poleis in
Asia Minor had been accustomed to Persian hegemony for centuries, not
to mention the multitude of non-Greek cities in the lands conquered by
the Macedonians. The Achaemenids, like the Hellenistic kings after them,
styled themselves the protectors and benefactors of cities throughout their
empire and beyond: ever since the Greek-Persian wars the Achaemenids
had maintained diplomatic contacts with independent Greek poleis, trying to maintain a finger in the political pie of mainland Greece through
a policy of divide and rule, while at the same time presenting themselves
as the champions of Greek freedom. When the Thebans declared war
against the Macedonians in 335, they called upon all the Greeks to join
the Thebans and the Great King in liberating the Greeks and destroying
the tyrant of Greece (Alexander).6
The image of the Greek city in the age of Macedonian imperialism is
moreover distorted by four persistent misconceptions about the place
and function of the city in the imperial framework. The first misconception is: the Greek polis is a unique phenomenon. That depends on definition. If we describe a polis as an urban community or state, disposing
of its own geographically delimited territory, and characterised by small
size, political autonomy, social homogeneity, sense of community (citizenship) and respect for (civic) law,7 then poleis will be found all over
the world throughout history, but especially in highly urbanised areas
such as Bronze Age Syria, Hellenistic Mesopotamia, Late Antique Sogdia,
Medieval Flanders or Renaissance Tuscany. Like the majority of poleis in
Classical Greece, such city-states were normally self-governing oligarchies. The second misconception is that civic autonomy is a Greek ideal.
It is not. Cities are almost qualitate qua autonomous. Self-rule is the
natural state form for cities. Most cities are governed by domestic magistrates appointed by an assembly or council of some sort, which is sometimes presided over by a city-king, a high priest or a tyrant.8 Of course,
6 Diod. 17.9.5; cf. Plut., Alex. 11.7-8.
7 Definition after Oswyn Murray in OCD3 (1996) 1205; the presence of a city is normally not considered characteristic of a polis in theory, but in practice it usually is.
8 For the ideal of civic autonomy in Babylonia prior to the Hellenistic period, Van de
Mierop 1999. Because of the ample evidence we know rather well that Jerusalem was as
autonomous and self-governing under the Babylonian and Persian kings as it would be later
under the Ptolemies and Seleucids, cf. i.a. Lipschits 2005, Vanderkam 2004, Bernett 2004.

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radical democracy, such as it existed in Athens in the fifth and fourth


centuries, may be unique. But democratic Athens was exceptional even
in the context of fifth-century Greece. Besides, Athens democracy did
not disappear in the Hellenistic Age on the contrary: democratic rule
was supported rather than suppressed by Macedonian kings. Thirdly,
Hellenistic poleis had no independent foreign policy once they became
involved with empires. This simply is not true. The need to negotiate with
kings, added to the normal dealings with neighbouring states, made
diplomacy as important as ever. Moreover, Hellenistic poleis hardly
ceased to quarrel or to make war among each other.9 The fourth and last
misconception is: empire is bad for civic autonomy. That is not necessarily so. Here, too, the opposite could be true. Just as Hellenistic kingship,
as John Ma once asserted, is good for your hair,10 so it can also be good
for your city (as I will explain below).
Empires like the Achaemenid, Argead or Seleucid Empires, are basically tribute-exacting military organisations exercising only thin administrative control, and collecting relatively little revenue, in extensive and
culturally heterogeneous territories. A steady supply of resources and
manpower, as well as control of strategic roads, were the principal prerequisites of ancient imperialism.11 Such empires have been referred to
as hegemonic empires, meaning that local rulers recognise the overlordship of a great king, with personal ties established by marriage or
other connections and cemented by gifts, and as military patronage
states, meaning that a conquering people takes control of ethnically
different populations, providing them the security that they need in
order to produce the surplus the empire needs to support its army and
court.12 Such states neither had the will nor the power to govern subject cities directly. Rather than trying to install outsiders as governors
against the citys leaders wishes, kings supported local political factions
or elite families against their rivals, trying to manipulate the composition of the ruling oligarchy. Epigraphic evidence shows that when Hellenistic kings did intervene in city politics directly, they did so mostly
9 See Ma 2000; Chaniotis 2004 is dedicated more to inter-polis fighting in Greece than
to the great wars of the kings in the east. Chankowski 2004 stresses the continuing military
function of ephebes in the centuries after Alexander.
10 Ma 2003, 178.
11 See in general chapter 1 in Tilly 1990; cf. Tilly 1994. Millar 1987, 29, defined the
Seleucid state as primarily a system for extracting taxes and forming armies. Sommer
2000 emphasizes that the Seleucids collected tribute in Babylonia by means of indirect
rule without altering traditional power systems, the position of local lites, or the autonomy of indigenous cities.
12 Vogelsang 1992, 304-15; Frye 1996, 80; Findley 2005, 93; Di Cosmo 1999.

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in the capacity of mediators, taking care that their decisions were


embedded in, even subordinate to, civic law.13
It is easy to overestimate the power of Hellenistic kings, or to take for
granted the subordination of cities. In fact, kings were as dependent on
cities as cities were on them. Cities commanded the infrastructure and
formed the loci where surpluses were collected, both of which were
essential for the exercise of the empires core business: war-making.14
Besieging cities was a costly, time-consuming and even hazardous affair,
as Alexander learned at Tyre and Antigonus Gonatas at Athens. Antiochus the Great laid siege to Bactra for more than a year without ever
taking the city, and Demetrius Poliorcetes famous state of the art siege
of Rhodes ended in humiliating failure. Therefore, rather than coerce
cities into submission at any cost, rulers preferred to seek peaceful cooperation with urban oligarchies. This means that there was much to
gain for the cities as well. Rulers would promise to protect cities against
their enemies, formally grant cities de iure the autonomy they already
possessed de facto, and bestow on them various benefactions, trading
privileges, exemptions from taxes, and so forth. Hence the self-presentation of Hellenistic rulers as the liberators and saviours of cities. In return
the cities would voluntarily succumb to the ruler, award him (divine)
honours, pay tribute, provide military aid or simply acknowledge the
kings formal suzerainty.15
13 ONeil 2000; cf. Kosmetatou 1997, concluding that in the third century the Seleucids
rarely interfered in the domestic affairs of Pisidian towns, even though they maintained a
strong military presence in the region.
14 Hellenistic kings preferred silver bullion or coin to tribute in kind, for in the Hellenistic Age money was, as Plutarch (Cleom. 27.1) says, the sinews of war; cf. Diod. 29.6.1:
In warfare a ready supply of money is indeed, as the familiar proverb has it, the companion of success. Since he who is well provided with money never lacks men able to fight.
For the importance of coined money for the Seleucid war machine, see Aperghis 2004,
29-32; cf. De Callata 1997 and De Callata 2000.
15 The reciprocity of the interaction between court and city is also apparent from the
epigraphic evidence, as has been shown by Ma 1997: the standardised language of euergetism in royal letters and civic decrees, Ma argues, could not be monopolised and
manipulated by any of the parties so that both were cast in well-defined, mutually profitable roles. From the reign of Seleucus II Callinicus (246-c. 225 BCE), the Seleucids dealt
in like manner with principalities at the empires fringe Anatolia, Armenia, Arabia,
Persis, Hyrcania, Bactria and Sogdia who obtained independence and royal titles by the
grace of the great king; as far as the Seleucids were concerned, such rulers were vassals;
they themselves probably looked upon the Seleucids as their equals. On the curious paradox of cities simultaneously claiming autonomy and submitting to kings, see Versnel 1990.
As a famous letter of Antiochus II to Erythrai (Welles, RC 15; OGIS 223) shows, it was
not considered paradoxical if the king was presented with a huge gift of gold in return for
tax exemption: gift-giving was honourable while being taxed was tantamount to loss of
autonomia.

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The autonomy thus obtained could be quite real. Even Alexandria, Antioch and Pergamon had a boule and ekklesia, and governed themselves.16
Most cities were ungarrisoned.17 There sometimes was an epistates in a city,
but this presumably was not simply a royal official with full power of attorney but rather a citizen who was also a philoxenos of the royal family, and
who acted as intermediary. Kings were of course obliged to offer in actuality the security they promised to cities in return for tribute and allegiance.
Thus, cities maintaining direct relations with a king became, to borrow a
term from the Holy Roman Empire, Reichsunmittelbar, that is, safeguarded
against the territorial ambitions of nearby principalities and rival cities
exactly because of their subjugation to a powerful but absent emperor.
Presumably, most poleis of the Greek mainland were not so unhappy about
the Battle of Chaironeia, where the Macedonians destroyed the supremacy
of Athens and Thebes, who had dominated the other Greek states for so
long. What better protection for a small polis in central Greece against the
expansionist aggression of Athens than the tremendous military power of
the Macedonian king? Indeed, when Alexanders army sacked Thebes in
335, they were joined by troops from many surrounding Greek poleis, who
had come to settle old grudges against the Thebans.18 Long distance trade
benefited, too, from the relative stability and security offered by the empire.
Moreover, the need to mobilise resources impelled the empire to safeguard
and even actively encourage economic growth.19
16 For the democratic machinery of the Ptolemaic capital Alexandria, Fraser 1972
I, 93-115. Even cities in the Macedonian homeland were administered by an ekklesia, boule
and civic magistrates under the Antigonids: Hatzopoulos 2001, 190-1; cf. Hatzopoulos 1996
I, 1270-65 and II, 54-110. For a different view, see Grainger 1990, contending that Seleucid
cities in northern Syria were not autonomous and hence not real poleis.
17 At least not in the sense of being held hostage by an occupation force in the citys
main stronghold(s), which is meant by the ideal of being exempt from garrisons in e.g.
Antigonus declaration of Greek independence in 314 (Diod. 19.61); in practice, garrisons
could offer protection as well and for that reason could be present with the consent of the
city. On garrisons and cities see Labarre 2004. Couvenhes 2004 shows that mercenary garrisons were sometimes hired by cities; in case of good behaviour soldiers could be rewarded
by the city with the grant of citizenship.
18 Arr., Anab. 1.8.8 names Phocians and Boeotians, with Plataeans foremost among the
latter, cf. Plut., Alex. 11.5; Diod. 17.13.6 names Thespians, Plataeans, Orchomenians and
others, Just. 11.3.8 Phocians, Plataeans, Thespians and Orchomenians. Cf. Kosmetatou
1997, 5-37, esp. 21-22, arguing that in the third century relations between the Seleucids
and the Pisidian cities were very good because of the protection offered by the Seleucid
troops stationed in the region against the Galatians; to express their allegiance, cities carved
Macedonian shields on public monuments, and the citizens of Sagalassos even adopted the
Seleucid war elephant as an emblem for their official state seal which they used through
the Roman period.
19 See notably Aperghis 2004, arguing that the Seleucids took a keen interest in the
economies of the various regions of the Near East and Central Asia and actively encouraged
economic growth throughout their empire, notably with regard to cities.

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City and Court


In a letter to Miletus, Seleucus II assures the citizens that he is welldisposed to the city because the friends of his deceased predecessor
(patrikoi philoi) have informed him about the attitude of Miletus towards
his family.20 This document captures the pivotal significance of philia for
the functioning of the Seleucid imperial network. International networks
of friendship and guest-friendship known as philia, xenia, and philoxenia
linked elite families in Greek or Hellenised cities with the royal court.
These networks were instrumental in the courts policy of influencing the
internal politics of cities; they also offered cities opportunities to exert
influence on political matters at court. In the Seleucid empire, the royal
court was the point of contact between the monarchy and the various
ruling classes at the regional and local level.21 The friends of the king
functioned as intermediaries.
The ancient Greek tradition of xenia (or philoxenia) a form of ritualised personal relationships with traits of fictive kinship, usually translated as guest-friendship constituted supranational, horizontal elite
networks which linked men of approximately equal social status but of
separate social units c.q. poleis, thus uniting the Greek world at its highest level.22 It was an aristocratic ideal, an archaic legacy.23 Through participation in a social sphere outside the city, civic elites distanced themselves from their inferiors. Xenoi of the Seleucid family who served as
courtiers, commanders or ambassadors would normally retain links with
their families and cities of origin, presumably through several generations.24 They often acted as mediators between the kings and their own
20 I.Didyma 493; OGIS I 227; Welles, RC 22 lines 7-9. Milesian philoi of the Seleucids:
Hermann 1987.
21 On the Hellenistic royal court see now my dissertation (2007), with full bibliography.
22 Herman 1987, 208: Many of the courtiers were recruited through the instrumentality of xenia, an ancient form of fictive kinship. The Hellenistic rulers availed themselves of pre-existing xenia networks to draw new allies into their orbit. These networks
account not only for the preponderance of Greeks among the newly recruited Hellenistic
court members, but also for the increasing similarities between the three courts. The Hellenistic court societies, then, did not operate in vacuo. Instead, they were part of a wider,
interactive, international society of ritualised friends. This society had since time immemorial
constituted a world of its own, binding together the social elites of the Greek world through
upper-class ideals. As a first step towards understanding Hellenistic court politics, one
should therefore explore the relation between court societies and friendship networks.
23 For philoxenia as an aristocratic ideal in the world of Homer: Scott 1982; Van Wees
1992, 44-48.
24 Savalli-Lestrade 1996; Muccioli 2001. In cities we encounter both honours for the
king dedicated by philoi (e.g. OGIS 128, 171, and 255) and decrees in honour of philoi
dedicated by the king (e.g. Syll.3 462; Welles 45; OGIS 317).

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communities of origin, deriving substantial benefits from both systems.25


Philia may be defined as a personal, reciprocal bond of loyalty and
solidarity between two or more men (or women) of approximately equal
status who share roughly the same interests. They were committed
to each other by mutual obligations, and could rely on each other for
help.26 The objective of philia was normally to achieve a common goal,
and united action towards that end was a means to strengthen and
display the bond. By means of exchanging gifts and favours (charites)
the friendship was kept alive.27 The parties involved in a philia relationship were ideally each others peers, even when they were not equals in
practice.
It should be noted that Friend of the King was only to a limited extent
a terminus technicus for courtier because the term by itself did not presuppose actual presence at court, which means that oligarchs in poleis
could be philoi too.28 Thus the court society constituted the epicentre of
a complex and far-reaching network of patronage relations through
which kings could control cities.29 But the system worked bottom-up as
well, permitting cities and elite families to exert influence at court
through royal philoi. The majority of the philoi who were actually present
at the (peripatetic) Seleucid court, or who served the royal family as
provincial officials and ambassadors, seem to have been predominantly
Greeks (with a small upper stratum of ethnic Macedonians).30 They came
25 Herman 1996, 613. On philoi as mediators between king and cities, see Bringmann
1993. Herman 1980/81 has listed civic decrees honouring philoi, mainly from third century
Athens, Samos, Ephesos and Delos.
26 Goldhill 1986, 82.
27 Konstan 1997, 78; cf. Scott 1982, characterising Homeric philia as being based on
self-interest but wholly co-operative in action. For philia and Hellenistic court society see
Strootman 2007, 119-80.
28 More specific and to the point is peri ten aulen, the people of the court, or aulikoi,
literally courtiers; however, despite Bickerman 1938s assertion that these were technical
terms, they do not figure in official contemporary documents (unlike philoi). Aule is commonly used in Greek historiography to denote a royal court, cf. Tamm 1968. Another term
designating what we would now call courtiers is therapeia, retinue. The designation philoi
tou basileos, however, is used most often to denote the Hellenistic court society in both
historiography and epigraphy; in official texts, the standard formula the king, his philoi,
and his military forces (dunameis) is used. For a full discussion of the terminology in the
sources, see Strootman 2007, 13-4.
29 Herman 1997, 200.
30 Habicht 1958. Habichts calculation that about 95% of the upper echelons of the Seleucid imperial administration considered itself Hellenic, has been rejected by many scholars,
most fervently by Kuhrt and Sherwin-White 1993, 124-125; it has been defended by Herman
1997, 208, and Weber 1997, 40-41. Non-Greek officials were present at secondary levels,
besides, of course, constituting the bulk of regional and local aristocrats and rulers.

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from a wide range of Greek cities, even from beyond the empires actual
boundaries.31 In his biography of Antigonus Monophthalmus, Richard
Billows has listed the names of the c. 150 known philoi of this king. In
82 instances an ethnikon has been preserved. The list reads as if every
single polis in the Greek world was represented at the Antigonid court
by at least one man: Byzantium, Athens, Lampsacus, Rhodes, Olynthus,
Cyzicus, Miletus, Amphipolis, Heracleia Pontica, Cos, Teos, Halicarnassus, Erythrai, Larissa, Elaea, Plataea, Thera, Eresos, Tieion, Chios, Samos,
Tenedos, Cyrene and more.32 The Seleucids relied heavily on Greeks from
Asia Minor and the Aegean. Of the philoi of Antiochus III mentioned by
Livy and Polybius as serving the king at any time in his reign, c. 25%
came from mainland Greece, 25% from Asia Minor, and another 15%
from Aegean islands, the remainder being Greeks and non-Greeks from
Syria and Iran. The philoi at Antiochus IIIs court had disparate places of
origin such as Acarnania, Chalcis, Thessaly, Aetolia, Achaia, Rhodes,
Cos, Gortyn, Byzantium, Cyzicus, Seleucia Calycadnus, Alexandria
Troas, Caria, Cyme, Antioch on the Orontes and Seleucia in Pieria. Even
in the reign of Mithradates Eupator whose empire was much smaller
than Antiochus IIIs and whose court was dominated by Iranian aristocrats we encounter representatives of Lesbos, Athens, Sinope, Amisos,
Scepsis, a Laodicean and a Stratonicean, holding important positions in
the entourage of the king.33
The fuel of philia was gift exchange.34 With lavish gifts kings confirmed
their superior status and obligated their friends and other retainers. It was
not dishonourable to ask for a gift. A person operating in the xenia-network of the Seleucid family who managed to appear before the king (or
one of his queens, a prince, a satrap, a kinsman of the king or an important courtier) was allowed to ask for benefactions, privileges or material
gifts. He could do so on behalf of himself and his family, his own philoi,
or his polis. The petitioner would be expected to first present a gift himself, but the person with the highest status was obliged to offer the most
31 The tables showing the ethnicity and places of origin of early Antigonid, Seleucid,
Ptolemaic and Attalid courtiers presented in 2003 at the Post-Classical City symposium in
Groningen, have been printed in Strootman 2005, and were inserted in Strootman 2007,
124-9. Comparable material, but with different conclusions, has been presented ONeil 2003
and 2006.
32 Billows 1997, 361-452.
33 Savalli-Lestrade 1998, nos. 3, 7-10, 13, 16; App., Mithr. 21, 48, 117. Against the c. 10
Greeks at Mithradates court, the names of another 10 probable non-Greek courtiers are
known: App., Mithr., 2, 19, 70, 76, 79; Strabo 13.1.66; Savalli-Lestrade 4, 12, 14.
34 Konstan 1997, 4. On the significance of gift exchange at the Hellenistic courts, see
Strootman 2007, 143-148.

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valuable gift or favour.35 If the petitioners initial gift were accepted, his
request would be granted. Thus, the exchange of gifts created both horizontal bonds of loyalty as well as vertical bonds of dependence.
Conclusion
The Hellenistic polis did more than survive and multiply. Cities may
have become dependent on the rulers goodwill, but the opposite was true,
too. In the ensuing negotiations there was much to gain for the cities, first
of all their independence.
The philoi tou basileos acted as intermediaries and negotiators. They
represented the interests of the cities at court and the interests of the court
in the cities. A philos did so either as the representative of his own polis
or as a broker between the representatives of a polis and the king; in both
cases xenia and philia networks linked the polis to the court. The exchange
between king and city e.g. divine honours for the king in exchange for
benefactions and privileges for the city was embedded in the moral complex of gift exchange, which in turn formed part of the moral complex of
ritualised friendship with its ideology of mutual aid and shared benefit.
Utrecht University

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